Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Practical test - third time's a charm!

1-19-05 Oral & Practical test day. I get there about 8:45, they arrive at 10:00. Perfectly clear weather, warm and unfortunately stable. The instructor candidate, G, does the papers and the oral test - VERY SLOWLY and fumblingly. This takes forever! R sometimes has to correct him and make him ask coherent questions. I miss some stuff, especially airspaces and light guns. This and the cross-country flight plan take FOUR HOURS! Then I fly with R. He's patient and fair and smart. All three flights go great! Not perfect, but very well.

1. To 4000', very smooth tow. On takeoff I hear a bang from the back seat. I think he tried to fool me into thinking a rope break had occurred, but I saw no change in the rope so I did not react. Box the wake is OK - rounded out the lower left a bit. Tried to get slack twice, got just a little. Steered the towplane to the left. A couple of not-so-steep turns, a round out to a compass heading. Straight stalls go fine. Turning, he doesn't want a stall, just the recognition. Slow flight - he wants me to slow down to find the stall speed. We find no lift but simulate thermaling. That's pretty much it for high airwork, so he has me demo slips to lose altitude. On the 45, I extend the landing gear and have trouble getting it to lock in place. Flying with my left hand, I'm a bit distracted and get out of attitude a bit, but I recover without it becoming a problem. (Maybe this counts for a distraction, because he didn't create any others as I expected.) Very nice landing, maybe a slight bounce. This one has to be a precision landing (in the box) and I nail it! Well, except for nosing up a bit at the very end.

2. Ostensibly to 2000', but he pulls the rope around 250-300'. I nose over - my speed is about 60 kt due to tow, so I don't have to wait to pick up speed, so I turn right away. No big deal - later I don't even remember looking down at the ground. With no wind, I don't get pushed deep into the field. I land with just spoilers - I don't think I had to slip. I land smoothly and nicely centered, maybe even a little short because the ground is rough and we don't roll even close to the taxiway. (Later he says that's my best landing of the day.) It's a LONG push back with just two of us.

3. Now to 2000' to do the no-drag approach, spoilers allowed on final. Off tow, he says this is also to simulate an off-field landing where I do not know the ground altitude, so he has me crank the altimeter out of usefulness! This is a big surprise! I've never landed without reference to the altimeter. So... I do it. I fly around and slip down until I think I'm about 1000' at the IP and then do the no-flap approach. It all goes well, I use spoilers only in the second half of final, and I nail another precision landing - and this time it was not required!

After debrief, he gives me my temporary cert - I've passed! There are some things I should study, but they pass me. Later I ask R how he thinks I did, and he said it went very well. By the time they leave and I put it all away, it's about 5:30 p.m. and I'm tired and have a stomach ache. But I've got my cert!!

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